Android – What is Root, Superuser & custom software?

I know Android is still a new thing in our country. Users who bought Android because they are either geeks, Linux gurus, adventurers, and explorers has passed. Now, Android is reaching a state where new users are following rather than doing their researches first. Credit goes to these people from the first group for making Android a known device and pull lots and lots of new members out of the iPoison and showed them a new adventure.

Now the new friends of ours try to speak the same language that we are speaking here. What we need to remember is, we had a tough journey in the beginning too – learning all the process and everything. If you say you rooted your device and it made your device look cool, they will start to immagine things. Things that you didn’t even explain. Its a fact. I get these questions everyday. No joke.

To those who still don’t have a clear picture, ROOT in our actual language means seniors, ancestors, or the point where everything starts. Without roots, plants will not grow, humans will not have kids, a system will not have an organization. That said, root is the top level of anything that has an organization. In Android, root is the top level of the directory. From root, the organization grows larger and you have folders, subfolders and files. Then what is ROOTING itself? Simple. Rooting refers to the process of obtaining the access to the root level. In Android, root level is not provided by default. There are many reasons for doing this. Among the most important reason is to block access to the paid applications directory. This prevents illegal distribution of the paid applications. That is why the controversy of whether root access should be granted by default or not is still being heavily discussed. However, in protecting root, we miss a whole lot of interesting stuff that can be done if we have root level directory. Once root access is obtained, the user can flash a custom recovery and even a custom ROM if the user knows how to compile one. This gives ultimate flexibility to the user to customize his device according to how he wants it to be. Obtaining root access has nothing to do with your device’s performance and what not. It only gives you access to everywhere in the device.

In order to obtain ROOT, you need SUPERUSER permissions. Superuser, in a way, is the god of the device. He has permissions to do EVERYTHING to the device – even brick it. To obtain superuser is the real challenge which our Android gurus Cyanogen, PaulOBrien, koush and others spend endless hours to obtain it. Once superuser is obtained, you have the ultimate power of root and hence are able to literally do ANYTHING with the device. Superuser is the permission that allows root access. Once again, this has NOTHING to do with your phone’s performance and what not.

FLASHING CUSTOM SOFTWARE is what most of the newbies are seeking for. This is what actually improves the performance of your phone. Custom software includes the Operating System, kernel and the ROM. Each of these are complimentary to one another and require each other to execute the commands and operate the device. If you were building a house, kernel would be its base, Operating system would be its pillars and ROM would be the roof. How solid is your base, pillar and roof determines how well your house will be built. The amount of current supplied, the frequency of the CPU, the governors available, total free RAM, overclocking, undervolting, optimization, bloatwares, modules, and a huge bunch of parameters determines the overall performance of the phone. THIS is the actual thing that you may want to adventure when playing in the Android hacking scene.

Then why do everyone keep saying “I root my device” instead of “I flashed a custom software on my device”?
Simple. Because you need to have root access before you can flash the custom software.

It is important to at least understand these basic terms before you start exploring the Android further. Hope this will clear up much of the confusion that is hovering around the Android community.


  1. adam
    #1 written by adam  (8 years ago)

    this is a good explanation. thanks.

  2. Shahz
    #2 written by Shahz  (8 years ago)

    Thanks Adam :)

  3. taboo8614
    #3 written by taboo8614  (8 years ago)

    wow this is a really good post for anyone that would not know what all these terms are you broke it down really well.

  4. Shahz
    #4 written by Shahz  (8 years ago)

    Thanks :) Hope you find it useful..

  5. Joe
    #5 written by Joe  (8 years ago)

    Thank you for this very clear explanation, I appreciate it very much!

  6. ShahZ
    #6 written by ShahZ  (8 years ago)

    Glad it helped Joe :)

  7. strony www
    #7 written by strony www  (7 years ago)

    Great info, I was close to brick my phone ..

  8. Kyle
    #8 written by Kyle  (7 years ago)

    I got my samsung fascinate from the flea market yesterday. It appeared to be bricked when I first saw it but I knew it would be an easy fix. Someone that didnt know what they were doing tried rooting the device. Applications freezing, oS not respoding. Luckily, you can find almost anything about android on the internet… Thanks for this post. :)

    • Shahz
      #9 written by Shahz  (7 years ago)

      Im glad the post was useful :D I just love the power of open source and least that I could do to contribute back to the Android community is provide these information which are confusing for first timers mostly.

  9. oceanfire
    #10 written by oceanfire  (7 years ago)

    really good article, thanks very much.

  10. Elias
    #11 written by Elias  (7 years ago)


  11. shah
    #12 written by shah  (7 years ago)

    This is a good explanaion of basic terms i really learned alot . Thanks for this post Shaz.

  12. tinkerddc
    #13 written by tinkerddc (7 years ago)

    I for this paper particularly interested in peacetime, privately installation once accessories,welcome to the page dota heroes .

  13. Hillary
    #14 written by Hillary  (7 years ago)

    how to use the superuser app ? i have rooted my phone but the android market application still need me to pay for some of the app..

    • ShahZ
      #15 written by ShahZ  (6 years ago)

      Superuser is free..The paid version only has extras which you don’t essentially need..

  14. AndroidFan
    #16 written by AndroidFan (7 years ago)

    Thanks mate!!

  15. chris
    #17 written by chris  (6 years ago)

    i just need help period i dont feel like reading so please a quick response

  16. hendy kippuw
    #18 written by hendy kippuw  (6 years ago)

    Thanks bro..i
    I like..

  17. faizal
    #19 written by faizal  (6 years ago)

    thanks ………

  18. grump girl
    #20 written by grump girl  (6 years ago)

    Hi I needed major help in learning how to “flash custom software” since from what I read that’s what I need to do first before I root my my touch.I don’t know much about these things sorry.someone help please..

    • ShahZ
      #21 written by ShahZ  (6 years ago)

      Its the other way round. You need to root first before you can flash a custom ROM. Once you have rooted, you will need a recovery console (like CWM or Amon_RA) and then you will be able to flash a custom ROM from it. Search for it on xda-developers and you will find a method for your device :)

  19. rufa
    #22 written by rufa  (6 years ago)

    i had difficulty to root my device pls help me how wil i do this???

  20. pham
    #23 written by pham  (6 years ago)

    How can I tell if a d/l is safe? What is flash? &brick? Thx for info, good info. Where can I find more?

  21. 秀玲
    #24 written by 秀玲  (6 years ago)


  22. Alseni
    #25 written by Alseni  (6 years ago)

    Muito bom

  23. odod13
    #26 written by odod13 (6 years ago)

    That was an awesome explanation. It took me so long to find out all that. I wish more people would give good explanations. Everytime one ask a question the response is something like this-Thats easy hook the dohikey to the thingamagiga. Wonderful except i dont know what thedohikey is and when i find it i dont know how to open or turn it on. Please people dont let Android fall in the Windows pit of harrible explanations

  24. Raj
    #27 written by Raj (6 years ago)

    Good explanation…..shahz..thank you…

  25. malice
    #29 written by malice  (6 years ago)

    Uh? I understood newbe, and actually a bit more thanx to your plain speak and that says a lot cos I’m the kind of woman who is in to hitting things with hammers while being up to my elbows in grease. Thanx.

  26. Innocent Bystander
    #30 written by Innocent Bystander  (6 years ago)

    Very late reply but I would like to thank you. Finally I understand the true meaning of rooting which previously I thought it’s the same than flashing ROM various kinds of unlocking.

  27. JC
    #31 written by JC  (6 years ago)

    hello, ive got a razr maxx and would like to root it so im able to run compleate backups.
    some instructions would be deeply appreciated :)

  28. MNP
    #32 written by MNP  (6 years ago)

    I am struggling with terms here. I am not a “techie” in any sense of the word, but I want to access all the pluses of having an android. Please explain “brick” and “flashing”. Not sure what a recovery console is either. Thanks

    • shahz
      #33 written by shahz  (6 years ago)

      I think I should create a glossary of the terms here..haha..To answer your question:
      Brick – The state where your phone is nothing more than a brick which you can use to throw at people or use as part of your house structure. This is when things have gone heavily wrong and there is no way to recover it anymore.

      Flashing – This is the process of “installing” a ROM. The idea is similar but the method is different. You “install” an application, but you “flash” a ROM. In flashing, every bit of the data is written one by one on the ROM and cannot be multi-tasked.

      Recovery Console – Its the first part that will boot before your OS loads up. In case you flash a malicious ROM (which loads the OS), you can use recovery to flash another ROM and recover your phone from bricking – hence called recovery console.

  29. israel
    #34 written by israel  (6 years ago)

    No work

  30. nilton césar cardoso de araújo
    #35 written by nilton césar cardoso de araújo  (6 years ago)

    Comprei o profana baixei e deu um erro… Como posso recupera-lo ?

  31. Basilbaz
    #36 written by Basilbaz  (5 years ago)

    Eye opener for me thanks for clear explanation

    #37 written by  (5 years ago)


  33. elmer
    #38 written by elmer  (5 years ago)

    now i know, what superuser is good.

  34. David Edgar
    #39 written by David Edgar  (5 years ago)

    I thought I had rooted my Android Tablet using z4root. It appeared to work. I had downloaded Titanium Backup and was no pleased I wanted the Pro version which is a key to upgrade the basic version to Pro. Having done this the Tablet was not happy and would not work advising there was a root problem. I then downloaded Root Checker which reported that my device does not have proper root access. So much for the efficiency of 4zroot. Can any out there recommend a good solid rooting application? Any advice will me welcomed as I have searched the web without success.

    #40 written by (5 years ago)


  36. Ray Brown
    #41 written by Ray Brown  (5 years ago)

    Thank you for the great explanation of the root directory. I have used the Slackware version of Linux and this made sense to me. I did not, however, know that the file structure of Android was similar.

    • ShahZ
      #42 written by ShahZ  (5 years ago)

      Thanks Ray :) Indeed, the backbone of Android is a lightweight Linux which is why the file structure is the same :)

  37. LR Nadarajah
    #43 written by LR Nadarajah (5 years ago)

    To an ‘ignoramus’ – like myself – your explanation is like a revelation.
    Well done that man and give yourself a pat on the back. And ‘THANK YOU’!!!

  38. xtw
    #44 written by xtw  (5 years ago)

    baru lpas xtw la nk pkai supersu..tlg aja leh?

    • shahz
      #45 written by shahz  (5 years ago)

      Tak perlu buat apa-apa bro. Bila run applikasi yang perlu root (contoh macam Titanium Backup, setCPU, etc), baru superuser akan tanya sama ada nak bagi akses atau tidak. Kalau nak bagi, nak bagi selalu atau kali ini sahaja. Itu je. Next time kalau nak cancel akses aplikasi tu, then baru masuk superSU app untuk terminate entry tersebut.

  39. Muhammed Rabbani
    #46 written by Muhammed Rabbani (5 years ago)

    Hi guys you have explained in such a way that i’ll never ever forget it thanks for your kind info…….

    Best regards…….

  40. Michelle
    #47 written by Michelle  (5 years ago)

    Very well explained & well put to those who have issues understanding all of this like myself! Thank You for taking thetime to better explain this to all users who get confused by Technologies Terms & Lingo!!

    • Eve
      #48 written by Eve (1 year ago)

      Cepat puas ini yang kadang menghambat jalan ke tangga berikutnya… mudah-mudahan saya bisa menerapkan apa yang mbaq Nunik tulis… btw mbaq, baca deh comment luv-ku… sepertinya cocok buat mbaq terapin ! **im;opos*iiii&#8230r. .-= casrudi´s selesai [nulis] ..$ 1 dari satu orang, Mau?… =-.

  41. hamid
    #49 written by hamid (5 years ago)

    eerur Rootet mobil htc wilfire s 510 e.

  42. elbert
    #50 written by elbert  (5 years ago)

    I have a Net 10, LG Optimus Logic GSM w/sim for AT&T. People who unlock cells keep tellung me it can’t be unlocked. I’ll lay odds they a full of shit. Can this phone be rooted so that it will use a sim card from Telcel or Movistar in Mexico, and how complcated is it to do?

  43. Aaron
    #51 written by Aaron  (5 years ago)

    Dang,still can’t brick my phone.
    Must not be SUPER enough.

  44. Miltonmanuelcurtis
    #54 written by Miltonmanuelcurtis (5 years ago)

    Quero usufruir

  45. Pimm Fox
    #55 written by Pimm Fox  (5 years ago)

    Very useful and interesting for someone like who wants to learn more but at 53 am very far behind thanks

  46. tony
    #56 written by tony  (4 years ago)

    I news to root my phone

    #57 written by  (4 years ago)

    My brother suggested I might like this web site. He used
    to be entirely right. This submit actually made my day. You can not consider just how a lot time
    I had spent for this info! Thank you!

  48. Sathish Kumar V
    #58 written by Sathish Kumar V  (4 years ago)

    Good information, really useful and i used this document to under stand what is a super user, amazing job by this author, thanks!
    Sathish Kumar V

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